Sunday, June 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India

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12 soldiers killed in suicide attack
Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 28
Twelve soldiers were killed and seven wounded in a suicide Fidayeen attack by two terrorists on the military station at Sunjawan, near here, early this morning.

Both terrorists were shot dead in a nearly four-hour-long encounter. Both are believed to be members of either the Lashkar-e-Toiba or the Jaish-e-Mohammad, which have been indulging in such Fidayeen attacks. The security forces were trying to ascertain their links with these outfits.

The terrorists took the army jawans by surprise as they stormed a barrack at around 4.30 a.m. while they were asleep. The ultras reportedly entered the military station by cutting the barbed wire from the rear of the housing colony of Bhatindi, which has at many times been suspected of being a centre of terrorists.

The terrorists lobbed grenades and fired indiscriminately on the soldiers sleeping in the barrack. The ultras had caused much damage before the unarmed jawans could realise what was happening.
Army personnel along with a UN Observer
Army personnel along with a UN Observer (2nd, L) at the military station at Sunjawan near Jammu on Saturday. — Photo Sarabjeet Singh

The terrorists were wearing Army uniform and took advantage of the sarkanda grass for sneaking into the military area. A quick reaction team responded immediately and killed the terrorists.

The wounded soldiers were rushed to military hospital.

Today’s attack on the Army establishment has come almost a year after the terrorist attack in the Kaluchak cantonment on the outskirts of the city in May last year in which 32 persons were killed. Both these military areas are divided by the Sainik colony.

The city started echoing with shelling and gunfire early in the morning and people took it as an exercise of the police or exchange of firing on the Indo-Pakistan border. The actual reports started trickling in as the day advanced.

Observers of the United Nations also reached the military station to ascertain facts.

The Minister of State for Defence, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, visited the place and held discussions with the Army officers.

Lieut Gen T.P.S. Brar, GOC of the 16th Corps, also rushed here from Nagrota to have first-hand account of the terrorist attack.

Brigadier J.S. Thind, Commander of the Sunjawan brigade, only confirmed the number of casualties and refused to reply to the queries of mediapersons, who were not allowed to enter the military station. The police was also not allowed to enter the gate.

The roads in the Bhatindi colony were deserted as residents of the area were scared to come out. The police was deployed in strength in the area.

The Army personnel combed the entire area before calling off the operation.

PTI and UNI add: A lesser known militant outfit Al Nasreen claimed responsibility for the attack. One Abu Salim Mehmood, claiming to be the spokesman of the outfit, called up PTI office here from Srinagar and said three Al Nasreen militants had carried out the attack.

In other incidents of violence in the state, two Hizbul Mujahideen militants and a civilian were killed in a fierce encounter at Beerwah in the central Kashmir district of Badgam last night, sources said here today.

The forces on information were sealing Beerwah to nab the militants who were hiding there. However, they came under heavy fire and in the retaliatory fire, two militants were killed. One civilian also lost his life.

In the Kargil sector, one person was killed yesterday when Pakistani troops fired mortar and artillery shells across the Line of Control (LOC).

Pakistani troops fired mortars and artillery shells targeting civilian areas and security force installations in the Kargil sector, sources said, adding that one of the shells fell in the civilian area near the LoC, killing one.

The sources said that Indian forces also retaliated. However, casualties suffered by Pakistani troops were not immediately known.

The Border Security Force (BSF) troops, meanwhile, foiled an infiltration bid and shot dead a Pakistani intruder in the Samba sector, while two civilians were injured in unprovoked firing and shelling by Pakistani troops along the border in Jammu division since last night, official sources said here today.

The troops spotted two intruders sneaking into India from across the international border via the border outpost of Nanga in the Samba sector around midnight, they said, adding that the troops challenged them and in the ensuing exchange of fire, one of the intruders was killed.

The other intruder escaped towards the Pakistani side, the sources said. There was no casualty on the Indian side.

During the infiltration bid, Pakistani troops had also provided firing cover to the intruders, the sources said.

In a separate incident, a civilian, Bihari Lal, was injured in the firing resorted to by troops from across the international border in the Suchetgarh sector.

Another civilian received splinter injuries in Ser Makri village in the Noushera sector of Rajouri district in shelling from across the LoC.

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